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The Hilarious Way Justin Long Found Inspiration For His Barbarian Character In The Bachelor

Justin Long cast a very specific line when fishing for inspiration for his reprehensible "Barbarian" character. The twisted horror feature directed by Zach Cregger ("The Whitest Kids U'Know") debuted in September of this year and was met with positive reviews from fans and critics who found it to be a fun and surprising horror romp. Some are even clamoring for a "Barbarian" sequel.

Long plays AJ Gilbride, a character who was mostly — and likely intentionally — absent from the film's initial marketing run. At first, the story seems to be about a young woman named Tess (Georgina Campbell) navigating a suspicious impromptu roommate situation with Keith (imbued with an inherent creep factor, thanks to actor Bill Skarsgård's tenure as Pennywise the Clown in "It"). It feels as though there's a ticking clock until Keith shows his true, violent colors — then, a massive, inhuman being smashes his head in.

It's at this point, almost halfway through the film, that Long's AJ enters. The film quickly ruins his image, but Long plays him with an earnest ignorance that almost makes AJ endearing. Almost. Adorning a character this abhorrent with such human qualities is no easy feat. Luckily, Long had plenty of inspiration, drawing from a reality series with over 26 seasons and counting.

AJ displays performative goodness

When we first see AJ, he quite literally has the sun at his back and the wind in his hair. Then he gets a call — a woman working on his big-break television project has accused him of sexual assault. His life quickly spirals out of control, which ultimately steers him toward his death at the film's end. What makes Long's character unique, however, is that he seems unsure if he's actually guilty or not. He drunkenly describes the incident to a hometown friend as though it were no big deal — and yet his own description is damning.

Even moments after sacrificing Tess to save himself, AJ chooses to go back for her once he hears her breathing. Yet it doesn't seem heroic but rather a desperate attempt to prove that he's a good guy. This performative "good"-ness is something the actor said he found through reality TV. Long told The Wrap that to create AJ, he went to ABC's "The Bachelor" for inspiration. "I notice on those shows that ... there's a type of guy that presents very obviously. And they perform, whether they think it's cool or romantic, they're performing. I like the idea that this guy doesn't really know who he is."

Long's comparison of his character to "Bachelor" personalities came just weeks before former "Bachelorette" and "Bachelor in Paradise" contestant DeMario Jackson would be sued by two anonymous women for sexual assault (via USA Today). These alleged assaults are unrelated to an infamous "Bachelor in Paradise" controversy, wherein producers shut down production after allegedly witnessing Jackson committing sexual misconduct against another contestant. A third-party investigation contracted by Warner Bros. Television found no wrongdoing, and Jackson has since claimed public response was motivated by his race and gender (via The Hollywood Reporter).